Abuja – The Federal Government and West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) on Wednesday in Abuja signed a Headquarter agreement on adopting a comprehensive framework for the regulation of telecommunications activities. Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Communication, Mr Adebayo Shittu said WATRA was established by member states of ECOWAS. WATRA is an organisation that consists of Independent National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) and departments for regulation of telecommunications services established by governments of member-states in ECOWAS and Mauritania.
Its mission is to promote rapid and even development in telecommunications in West Africa toward attaining globally competitive standards while facilitating accelerated development of telecommunications infrastructure and provision of services at affordable rate in the sub region. “The Federal Executive Council has given approval for Nigeria’s hosting of the headquarters of WATRA at its 5th meeting on April 13, 2015. “What we are doing here today is to formalise what both the minister of justice and the federal executive council have started,’’ he said. Shittu said that NCC did not only play a vital role in the establishment of WATRA but also hosted it and produced its executive secretary at two different occasions. He said that the signing of the agreement had been vetted and approved by the Attorney General of the Federation and Ministry of Justice. On his part, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigerian Communications Commission of (NCC) appreciated the Federal Government for accepting to host WATRA as a regulatory body for the African Sub-region in Nigeria. Danbatta said that the signing of the agreement would no doubt accelerate the process of designing and adopting a comprehensive framework for the regulation of telecommunications activities in the sub-region. According to him, WATRA was conceived during an African Internet Summit (AFRINET) held in 2000 at ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja, in the realisation that telecommunications development in West Africa required regional integration. Danbatta said that WATRA was launched on Sept. 22, 2000 at the auditorium ECOWAS and “at the moment has 15 African countries as members’’. “The crucial roles telecommunication play in the social, economic and political advancement of people and nations are clearly manifest hence the need to accord it the maximum attention required. “So far, WATRA has been in the forefront of the campaign for infrastructure sharing (co-Location) services amongst member states. “And has contributed to the development of policies to enhance universal access and telecoms penetration in rural and under-served areas in the sub-region. “It is my hope that the signing of the Headquarter agreement will pave way for WATRA to achieve its set goals. Mr Elhadji Laminou, the Executive Secretary of WATRA said that the the organization was set up to encourage the establishment of modern and regulatory structures for telecommunications service delivery in all states in the sub-region. Laminou commended Federal Government and Ministry of Communication for the support in achieving this laudable agreement for the benefit of West Africa and Africa at large.